Holidays

 

Italian Chanukah Party

 

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Chanukah is just around the corner, I can’t believe it!  I’m still going strong with my post-Tishrei diet which excludes dairy and, as of two days ago, gluten.  So let’s just say I’m living vicariously by compiling these recipes, and boy do they look good.  In addition to latkes and doughnuts, having a dairy meal is another Chanukah tradition.  The dairy meal is connected to women in particular because it was Yehudis who helped win the war against the Greeks by feeding their commander salty cheese and copious amounts of wine before killing him and sending the Greek army into chaos.  Just a little food for thought!  The Italian Chanukah party is a great way to pay homage to the strong women in your life and is a festive way to participate in the traditional Chanukah dairy meal.

 


 

Having Fun With The Mensch on a Bench *Giveaway*

 

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What started as a small Kickstarter campaign has become the latest popular holiday gift for Jewish and interfaith families this holiday season.  The Mensch on a Bench, a 12” plush doll with an accompanying hardcover storybook, is the brainchild of Neal Hoffman, a former toy marketing executive turned entrepreneur.  The purpose is to introduce children to the story and traditions of Hanukkah, from the viewpoint of “Moshe” the Mensch.

In Hoffman’s fictional story, Moshe the Mensch, volunteered to watch over the Menorah in the Temple after the Maccabees victory.  During each of the eight nights, Moshe is inspired to continue to serve and witness the Hanukkah miracle.


 

Prepare For Cyber Monday With Our Chanukah Gift...

 

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The timing of Chanukah every year really dictates which sales we are able to take advantage of. Last year with Thanksgivukkah the sales were not in our favor, but this year we have more than two weeks to go and still have Cyber Monday to enjoy tomorrow.  You can see my guide for last year’s Hanukkah gift guide here.  This year I have found some fun new foods that will make the perfect gift.


 

Cook Thanksgiving in an Hour

 

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I’m not kidding, it is possible to spend Thanksgiving outside of the kitchen!  Each dish seems to add up to more and more hours in the kitchen, but with a good game plan and the recipes below you will be out of the kitchen and able to enjoy the day.  I’m no miracle worker though, sorry to say that there are no whole roasted turkey recipes here, those actually take a while to cook!  Instead there are plenty of elegant and alternative turkey based options which will make you wonder why you ever bothered cooking the whole bird anyway!

 


 

British Savory Pies and Pasties For Thanksgiving

 

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Anglo-Jewish history dates back at least a millennium and it is rife with complex twists and turns that are still debated. There are a few things we know for certain: After being (sort of) welcomed in by Norman and Plantagenet rulers in feudal times, significant persecution of Jews began around the late 12th century. They were branded with yellow stars and taxed extensively. They were expelled altogether in the 13th century in a time of religious fervor under the fury of Blood Libels. From then until 1609, there is historical uncertainty about Jews in England, with reports of a few—such as a crypto-Jew (one who had converted and practiced in secret) serving as physician to Henry VIII.  In a twist we certainly didn’t hear about as kids during the telling of the Thanksgiving story, many Puritans were punished for seeming to be “jew-ized” and distinctly pro- Old Testament. The Pilgrim landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620.

But pressure from (mostly Jewish) Spanish and Portuguese traders, the work of  Sephardic Dutch Rabbinical leader Menasseh Ben Israel (who advocated for opening of lands closed to Jews), and the practical politics of the English ruler Oliver Cromwell, led to an invitation for Jews  to return by 1664.  From the Restoration to the Enlightenment and beyond, life became rich for Jews—and not just in London and its environs.

So, for Thanksgiving this year, I decided to take a look at some U.S.–Anglo–Jewish culinary traditions. By and large, English food (notwithstanding Chef Jamie Oliver and Jewish TV chef Nigella Lawson) has always been thought of as bland. Plebeian. And when I lived there, I can tell you that I ate more than my fair share of butter and cucumber sandwiches and egg and chips (aka French fries). The folks at Lutece weren’t worried. But I did have some curious little handheld vegetable pot pies. Those pasties (pronounced PAHS-tees, rhyming with “last” or “past”—not “paste”—with “ease” at the end), were soul warming and easy to eat and carry along. This little pie is not exactly seen as a Jewish food, no doubt, but it’s a fun—and freezable—meal. Once you get the hang of the dough, you can stuff it with almost any stew—and it’s great for leftovers. Freeze them stuffed but unbaked and you’ve got a treat waiting to happen. Pasties, by the way, originated in Cornwall, England, and are believed to have been created for miners who worked under harsh conditions for many hours a day and wanted and needed a meal that would be easy to carry and tidy up. Original pasties featured an inedible dough—so tough that it protected the stew. And it only ever, ever contained beef, turnips, potatoes, and onions. This is such a deep-seated traditional food that, I kid you not, there is a Cornish Pasty Association and it sets rules about this little hand pie.

The rules notwithstanding, I’ve come up with a very American version that takes advantage of turkey, dressing and leftover greens. Keep calm and make hand pies.


 

Just A Pie Full Of Sugar Helps The Medicine Go...

 

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The Kosher Connection decided to dedicate this month’s link up to our longtime friend and distinguished Jewish food historian, Gil Marks. Gil has been sick for a while and we want to wish him a refuah shleimah (complete healing). I am sharing my recipe for these mini pies (full of sugar) in hopes to add a little sweetness during this otherwise difficult time. Gil has been an inspiration and a true pioneer. We thank Gil for all his amazing books, writing and teachings over the years and look forward to many more.

I made this recipe as an adaptation to Momofuku’s famous crack pie, I read about online. It is supposed to be so good, that you can’t stop eating it.  I first discovered Momofuku’s recipes when I attempted a new recipe for chocolate cookies that just didn’t really hold together and I ended up with a bunch of chocolate cookie crumbs.  I was able to use those crumbs to make these Chocolate Chocolate Cookies with Cookie Crumbs, which turned out absolutely amazing.  I learned that one of Momofuku’s specialties was using cookie crumbs and cake crumbs in the cookies and cakes.  So, when I found myself with graham cracker crumbs that wouldn’t hold together I knew where to turn.


 

Planning Your Thanksgiving Menu

 

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Most other food and recipe websites are doing countdowns to Thanksgiving, we save ours for Passover (you can sign up for Passover countdown here).  For everyone else in the world, Thanksgiving, celebrated with a multi-course extravagant meal, is a big to do and requires lots of planning.  For most of us, Thanksgiving is a piece of cake (or maybe pie).  After three day yom tov holidays all throughout October and the cleaning and prepping it takes to celebrate 2 Passover seders, we (I) revel in a day where we can actually cook food the day of serving.


 

50 Thanksgiving Recipes

 

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Thanksgiving always seems to sneak up and send me running to the kitchen for a marathon of cooking.  Despite all of the holiday themed blog posts and downright delectable pins on pinterest, I never seem to be prepared.  When I started becoming religious Thanksgiving was one of those days where I could say to my family “See, I’m still like you”!  I treat the day as an excuse to overeat (did I really just admit that?!) and a chance to spend extra time with the family.  Below are 50 Thanksgiving recipes to help streamline your menu planning.

 


 

A Shabbat Project Breakfast Idea

 

 

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Looking for inspiration for a Shabbos Breakfast? – look no further than these Israeli Breakfast ideas.

Rushed off our feet during the week sometimes makes it impossible to sit down as a family and eat a healthy breakfast together. Let’s really get into the spice and spirit of the promised land, leaving the macon and eggs behind, to enjoy the land of milk and honey in the form of an Israeli breakfast.


 

Caviar For Shabbat

 

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This article is dedicated to my father, who with out fail, reminds me every three day yom tov to do eruv tavshilin.  Eruv Tavshilin refers to the prepared food that is set aside with a prayer before a yom tov, that allows us to cook and prepare foods on a yom tov for Shabbat when Shabbat is the following day.  This is most often necessary when two days of holiday lead into Shabbat as we have been enjoying this year.  Get all the details of Ervu Tavshilin here and don’t worry if you have forgotten or didn’t know about it before, there are many that allow you to rely on the eruv of the Rabbi in the community who will have everyone in mind.

In my family as I am sure in many it is customary to use a hard boiled egg and challah or matzah for the Eruv.  It is easy to eat the bread at any meal, but no one in my family really likes to sit down to a hard boiled egg, that is how I started to serve Caviar on Shabbat.


 

Fresh Seasonal Food For The New Year

 

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With the holidays quickly approaching, we find ourselves yet again in the kitchen preparing daily feasts for our families and friends. Whether we are cooking traditional foods or new recipes, we sometimes get lost in the idea that the more complicated the recipe, the tastier and more impressive it is. In my own cooking, I find that it’s usually the simpler recipes using fresh and in season produce are the most delicious and healthier to boot.  Let’s put the healthy back into the new year and cook fresh, seasonal foods!

Here is a favorite recipe of mine, Moroccan Mint Beet Salad. Pairs beautifully with any fish appetizer from gefilte to sea bass and everything in between.


 

A Simchat Torah Mexican Menu

 

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On Simchas Torah and Shemini Atzeres, it’s time to push your culinary daring to the limits. Consider the fact that we’ve just come through Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkos, not to mention a Shabbos or two. Everyone at your table is thinking, “If I see one more potato kugel…” So have fun with the menu and try my simple recipes for Butternut Squash and Black Bean Stuffed Poblanos (a mild chili pepper) and Mexican Brisket, a fab twist on traditional recipes.


 

5 Menus for Shemini Atzeres, Simchas Torah, &...

 

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Ok, I admit it, I am guilty of calling every holiday “my favorite holdiay”.  Another confession, I don’t feel all that guilty– I really love everything about the holidays (minus the limits on showering, but let’s not discuss that).  Sukkos is this incredibly festive, yet humbling holiday.   Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah fall right at the end of Sukkos, after Hoshana Rabbah, and are literally, truly, just straight up days of rejoicing.  In gashmius, materialistic, terms: bring on the food!  These 5 menus will leave you full, feeling festive (you may also need a nap) and will motivate you to dance all night (and work off all those calories…sort of kidding!) by Simchas Torah.

 


 

Fresh Fig, Carrot, Fennel and Kale Salad

 

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Fresh Fig, Carrot, Fennel and Kale Salad Posted 10/08/2014 by Chef Tami Weiser
An all purpose fall and winter dish is always welcome in my home kitchen. This salad makes use of so many of the treasures of the fall and it’s great for the High Holidays, Sukkot and even Chanukah. If you are serving vegans, substitute 2 teaspoons grade B maple syrup for the honey- it tastes different, but it’s equally delicious and will pair with wonderfully with turkey.

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Join Us For The Shabbos Project

 

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Last year The Shabbos Project took South Africa by storm with a weekend dedicated to getting as many people as they could to keep Shabbat from sundown to stars out.  The weekend kicked off with a mass challah baking lead by our dear friend and regular contributor, The Kosher Butcher’s Wife, Sharon Lurie.

The Great Challah Bake